A Pierce County team that investigates police uses of deadly force identified three Tacoma Police Department officers Friday involved in last month's fatal shooting of a 39-year-old man suspected of firing a gun outside a South End bar.
Officers Lucas Cole, 37; Truitt Hartle, 32 and Shawn Gustason, 28, were involved in the Dec. 30 shooting, which killed Dillion Pugsley, according to the Pierce County Force Investigation Team. A spokesperson for the team said at least two of the officers shot at Pugsley using rifle and pistol rounds.
Cole has been with TPD for eight months and previously worked with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department for five years, investigators said. Hartle has been a Tacoma officer for a little more than three years, and before that he worked for the Federal Way Police Department for almost 2-and-a-half years. Gustason has worked at TPD for four-and-a-half years.
The officers were placed on administrative leave shortly after the shooting.
Police shot Pugsley in the 5700 block of McKinley Avenue at about 3:20 a.m., according to previous releases from PCFIT. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, the Pierce County medical examiner later determined.
Investigators said officers had probable cause to arrest him for unlawful discharge of a firearm and unlawful possession of a firearm. The offenses were tied to a bar in the 1200 block of South 56th Street, where Pugsley had reportedly been asked to leave by bar staff the previous evening. The law enforcement officer assigned as a spokesperson for the shooting, Sheriff's Department Sgt. Darren Moss, previously told The News Tribune that Pugsley fired a gunshot in the direction of the business as he left.
Tacoma police officers went to the bar at about 8 p.m. for a report of gunshots. Investigators said officers identified Pugsley as the subject involved and found his vehicle, but the driver wouldn't stop when officers tried to pull him over. At 9:45 p.m., the bar called police again because Pugsley was back, and again the man fled after police arrived.
In the early hours of the next morning, police located Pugsley asleep in a vehicle with a woman in the passenger seat, according to PCFIT. Officers put stop sticks in front of his car and began a felony stop, but Pugsley fled when he woke up.
Police followed, and the vehicle crashed near East 43rd and F streets, where the woman got out.
Investigators said Pugsley continued to drive south on McKinley Avenue until the vehicle stopped in the 5700 block and the shooting occurred. Pugsley died at the scene. Moss said Friday it's still unclear whether there was an exchange of gunfire, but a handgun belonging to Pugsley was recovered at the scene. Investigators are still working to get statements from the officers involved.